Lakers power forward and center Jordan Hill was charged with felony assault of a family member by strangulation today, months after the alleged incident occurred. According to Yahoo! Sports, the incident occurred on February 29 and a police report was filed with the Houston Police Department on March 29. Hill was traded from Houston to Los Angeles on March 15.
The incident allegedly stemmed from an argument about Hill’s future with his girlfriend, reports ABC 13 Houston. His girlfriend stated that she threw his cell phone to the floor. Hill allegedly became enraged, assaulted her, and then placed her in a chokehold when she refused to pick up the phone off the floor. The police have obtained photos from her friend which they say corroborate the story.
Intimate Partner Strangulation in Texas was elevated to a felony from a misdemeanor back in 2009. It is defined as "intentionally, knowingly or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the person by applying pressure to the person's throat or neck or by blocking the person's nose or mouth." The assault can be against a family member or anyone in a dating relationship with the perpetrator. The penalty, if Hill is convicted, can range from 2-10 years, plus fines and fees. However, it is also quite possible that a plea bargain could be reached, in which case he would face far less severe penalties.
For the Lakers, this could not have come at a worse time. The team is currently in the playoffs and Jordan Hill has emerged as a contributor over the last few games, after being nearly invisible during his first month with the team. However, this is also the same organization that once allowed Kobe Bryant to use the team's private jet to shuttle back and forth between Los Angeles and Colorado during his rape trial back in 2003-2004.
Former Laker players Kwame Brown and Derrick Character were also reportedly charged with crimes during Lakers' recent playoff runs, so the team does have some experience dealing with these types of distractions. The team has declined to comment on the matter.
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